Commercial Architecture May 2017 - 12
Nurses' stations at Skokie Hospital, part of NorthShore Univ. HealthSystem, Skokie, IL, have a direct line of sight to individual intensive-care units, which benefits staff and patients. Architect for the project was Eckenhoff Saunders
Architects, Chicago. Photo: Eckenhoff Saunders Architects.
scheduling patients, but they also set up infusions and talked to the patients.
The dilemma was how to fit eight workstations-three for the nursing staff at a desk
on-call space, in-house exercise facilities, spiritual space for meditation or prayer, a
place to meet coworkers for coffee or lunch, or a walking trail," Baker said.
and five for the infusion suites-into the space. The solution was three computer worksta-
It's important for staff to have break options. "During a particularly stressful shift,
tions on wheels so staff could move from patient to patient with their computer, and then
the staff may want to decompress in a quiet space, away from everyone for several
that computer ended up with them back at their desk when they were not seeing patients.
minutes. Breaks are encouraged for staff, but oftentimes staff feels compelled to re-
In addition, the carts were fitted with the basic supplies the staff needed to start the infu-
main at the workplace. Studies have shown that leaving the specific work environ-
sions-such as alcohol swabs, needles, Bandaids-eliminating the need for a large cabinet
ment helps staff decompress and re-energize themselves. Break areas need to be de-
in each infusion room. The rooms were smaller, cleaner, and neater, and the staff always
signed to reinforce the staff 's wellbeing and not become an extension of their
had what they needed with them as they moved from place to place. It took a space that
workplace," the Tsoi/Kobus team emphasized.
would have been small and difficult to work in and decluttered it and made it comfortable, Berman said.
Break rooms are sometimes mandated by codes, but they're one of the amenities
that sometimes get scarified to the medical program. Nevertheless, they're important because of the pace and intensity of many healthcare settings, according to
PRIVACY AND BREAKS
Baker emphasized that staff need areas with privacy from public areas so they can
Caregivers need to step out of the care venue in a way that's both psychological
truly take a break. "The departments where staff are most challenged (such as the
and physical. If colleagues see you sitting at your desk, they're more likely to come
emergency department or medical ICU) should have particular attention to respite
and interrupt you, but if you go to a designated break room or lounge, that's a clear
areas where staff can go to feel refreshed and restored. Ideally the environment pro-
signal that you'd prefer to be left alone unless it's an emergency, Berman said.
vides support to grieving, exhausted, and stressed-out staff who just need to take a
Those lounges can go from very simple coffee places to more sophisticated spaces
break. Is there somewhere quiet and private to relax? Can one find a seat with a view
with computers, small carrels, or workstations where people can check their personal
to nature for a mental distraction? Other potential staff supports include adequate
email, make phone calls, and do things such as banking without being exposed to
COMMERCI A L A RCHI T EC T URE